You file the right paperwork.
I talked with a friend this week who works with World Relief, an agency that settles refugees in the United States in a safe and legal way.
We both agreed - prior to knowing better we thought immigration was a matter of the right paperwork and the right process.
Instead, even a person who has family in the States and a job waiting can wait up to 15 years to get through the process. Think of it - a teenage son would enter midlife before ever living in the same house with his father or mother. Childhood is gone before you ever sit at the same table. It is painful and reform needs to happen.
But this post isn't about immigration. It's about forgiveness.
The truth about forgiveness is the same as immigration - too many of us see forgiveness as a matter of paperwork.
We say the right words.
We give the right permissions.
We feel the right feelings.
We become naturalized citizens of the land of the "forgivers."
Forgiveness isn't an exchange. It isn't one and done. It really isn't even "forgive and forget" because one part of that equation is wise and the other is not. You forgive the dog for being a beast by nature and snapping on your hand. You don't put your hand back down for a second try.
Jesus' teaching, carried through by HIs disciples is simply forgive.
One of the reasons why I think curiosity is so important to our growth and formation is because it's not enough to hear Jesus teaching "forgive" and then go DO it.
We need the second question - the curious question - How?
When it comes to forgiveness, the how is not just an event. It's not just an action, or an attitude, or a prayer, or a gift given in hopes of burying a hatchet.
Forgiveness is an address.
It's a place where you live.
When we answer the "How" of forgiveness, we answer it with our whole lives.
Forgiveness is a state of being - both forgiven and forgiving - and to enter it is a permanent revolution of soul.
When Jesus says if you do not forgive, your Father won't forgive you, He isn't describing an exchange. This isn't a matter of paperwork. He's inviting us to a way of living, becoming a conduit that receives and gives away.
That welcomes and sends.
That builds a house on the borders of redemption, burns the U-Haul, and lives in the middle of a constant renewal and release of those who've killed bits of us away.
Forgiveness isn't about paperwork.
The truth is, forgiveness is about presence. It is the way we walk in the world, never to return again.
To do anything else is to die by migration - to be a man without a Holy Country - a refugee in search of life.
So, perhaps this is a post about immigration & refugees. The question is where, who, what are we fleeing? Where would we rather live?